How to convert PDF to PDF / A

Have you received a PDF document via email and have been asked to convert it to PDF / A, but you don’t have the faintest idea what this format is and, above all, how to succeed in this “enterprise”? If the answer is yes, you have no reason to worry: I’m here, ready and very willing to explain how to convert PTO in PDF / A.

Before indicating the tools to use and the steps necessary to perform the operation covered by the tutorial, it is good that you understand what we are talking about: the PDF / A format represents a specific type of PDF designed for long-term archiving of electronic documents, as it inhibits practices such as external linking of fonts and encryption. Basically, it guarantees both the recipient of the document and the person who keeps it that it can always be viewed and reproduced in the same way, even after some time and with different programs and devices.

Having clarified this, I would suggest not to delay any longer and immediately start getting busy. So, get comfortable and start focusing on reading the following right away. I’m sure you’ll eventually be ready to say that converting PDF to PDF / A was actually a no-brainer. What do you say, we bet?


  • How to convert PDF to PDF / A for free
    • Convert PDF to PDF / A with LibreOffice
    • Convert PDF to PDF / A with Acrobat
    • Convert PDF to PDF / A with Word
  • How to convert PDF to PDF / A online
    • DocuPub
    • iLovePDF

How to convert PDF to PDF / A for free

Would you like to understand how to convert PDF to PDF / A for free from your computer? Then go ahead and read. In fact, below you will find the software for Windows, macOS and Linux that you can use to do so. They are all very easy to use, don’t worry.

Convert PDF to PDF / A with LibreOffice

If you need to convert PDF to PDF / A, I suggest you resort to using LibreOffice to begin with. Haven’t you ever heard of it? Very bad, but let’s fix it right away!

It is an open-source productivity suite and defined by many as the best free alternative to Microsoft Office (which I will talk about later in the chapter on Word ). It is available for Windows, macOS and Linux operating systems and has the advantage of being compatible with all major Office file formats, but above all with PDF and PDF / A, both for reading and writing.

To download LibreOffice on your computer, visit its website and click the Download version xx button. If you are using a Mac, you must also click on the Translated user interface button, which allows you to download the translation package to have LibreOffice in Italian (not necessary for the Windows version of the suite, which is provided directly in Italian).

When the download is complete, open the executable obtained and follow the instructions on the screen to complete the program installation. For more details, read my guide on how to download LibreOffice.

At the end of the installation, start LibreOffice on your computer, selecting the relative link that you find in the Windows Start menu or in the MacOS Launchpad and, once the main program window is displayed, press the Open file item located on the left; then select the PDF document you wish to convert to PDF / A and wait for it to be visible on the screen.

Next, click on the File menu, top left, and select the Export as and Export to PDF options. In the new window that appears, make sure that the General tab is selected (otherwise you do it yourself), check the box next to the item PDF / A -1a (ISO 19005-1) archive and click on the Export button.

Finally, indicate the location where you want to save the file once you have completed the procedure to convert PDF to PDF / A and press the Save button. Easy, right?

Convert PDF to PDF / A with Acrobat

Another tool you can use to convert PDF to PDF / A on your computer is Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. It is software from Adobe (the company that developed the PDF format) through which you can view and edit PDF files in various ways. It is available for both Windows and macOS and is paid (has a base cost of € 18.29 / month), but can be tried for free and without limitations for 7 days.

To download and install the program on your computer, visit its website and click on the Try 7 days button. Therefore, activate the trial by entering the email address of your Adobe ID in the text field on the left (if you do not yet have an Adobe account, you can create one at the moment, following the instructions on the screen), by clicking on the button Continue by typing the relative password and providing the requested payment details.

Wait, then, for the software download to be completed and proceed with its installation following the instructions I gave you in my guide on the subject. Subsequently, start the program, selecting the relative link in the Windows Start menu or in the MacOS Launchpad and, once the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC window is displayed on the screen, open the PDF you are interested in transforming into PDF / A, doing first click on the File menu, at the top left, and then on the Open item in the latter.

Once the file is displayed, select the Tools tab at the top, click the Show More button, locate the Standard PDF tool, click the arrow button below it and choose the Open item from the menu that appears. Then choose the Save as PDF / A option that you find in the right sidebar and, in the new window that appears on the screen, indicate the name and location you want to assign to the output file.

Finally, click the Save button, to save the final PDF / A. If you want, you can also adjust the settings related to export to PDF / A, by clicking on the Settings button in advance and acting on the parameters in the new window that appears. For example, you can select a PDF / A conversion profile other than the default one, you can choose to convert all the pages that make up the PDF to images and define their resolution etc.

Convert PDF to PDF / A with Word

To convert PDF to PDF / A you can also use Word, the famous word processing program from Microsoft available for both Windows and macOS.

Word is included in the Office package, which is available both in the classic “packaged” version with a one-time purchase and in the subscription version: in the latter case it is called Microsoft 365, has prices starting from 7 euros/month and you can try for free for 30 days with no obligation to renew. In addition, Word is available as a stand-alone application on the Microsoft Store of Windows 10 at a cost of 135 euros.

To proceed with the download of the trial version of Office, and therefore of Word, go to the Microsoft 365 website, select the link Try it free for 1 month that you find in the Microsoft 365 Family column, press the button Try it free for 1 month and continue according to the instructions I gave you in my guide on how to download Office for free.

Then, start Word, selecting the relative link that you find in the Windows Start menu or in the macOS Launchpad. Once its main window is displayed, open the PDF you want to convert by clicking on the Open item in the side menu.

When you see the on-screen warning that the file will be converted to an editable Word document, click the OK button. Subsequently, click on the File menu, at the top left, then on the Export item and press the Create PDF / XPS button on the right.

In the further window, you see appear, select the PDF item from the Save as a drop-down menu, then click on the Options button at the bottom, put a checkmark on the box next to the PDF / A Compliant option and press the button OK.

Finally, indicate the location where you want to save the document transformed into PDF / A and the name you want to assign it and click on the Publish button to start exporting.

How to convert PDF to PDF / A online

Don’t want or can’t download new programs to your computer and would you like to understand if it is possible to convert PDF to PDF / A online? Yes, of course! To do this, just use the appropriate Web services, such as those listed below.

I point out that you can use it not only from a computer (from any operating system) but also from smartphones and tablets, through the browser you usually use to browse online from your devices.


A great online tool to convert PDF to PDF / A that you can consider is DocuPub. It is very easy to use and allows you to convert the PDF files that are fed into various formats and to interact with them also by compressing, merging and resizing them. It is free and requires no registration to be employed. The only thing you need to take into account is that it allows you to upload files with a maximum size of 24 MB. Note that it does not provide information regarding the storage and deletion of files following upload.

To use the service, first connect to its home page and select the PDF / A option from the drop-down menu located under the Output format item. Then leave the option set unchanged via the Output Intent drop-down menu and click on the button located under the item Select the File to convert, to select the PDF document you want to convert.

Then, use the drop-down menu located under Delivery Method to indicate if, once converted, you intend to download the file directly from the browser window ( Wait for conversions in browser ) or if you prefer that everything be sent to you via a message. email to the email address that you will be asked to specify ( Email me a link to the document ).

Finally, click on the Upload & Convert button which is located at the bottom and wait for the conversion procedure to be completed. Subsequently, if you had chosen to download the converted document directly from the browser window, click on the link with the file name, while if you had chosen to receive the converted file by email you will receive an email message with DocuPub as sender and containing the instructions for downloading.


Another great web service you can rely on to convert PDF to PDF / A is iLovePDF. It allows you to work on documents in the format in question in various ways, including by converting them. It costs 6 euros / month.

To use iLovePDF, visit its web page, click on the Select PDF file button and download the PDFs from your computer. You can also choose to upload the document from your Google Drive or Dropbox account by clicking on the appropriate buttons. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the PDFs to be merged directly into the browser window.

Next, set the document compliance level via the drop-down menu Set PDF / A compliance level located on the right (if you have no special needs, you can leave the default settings selected) and click the Convert to PDF / A button.

Then wait for the conversion procedure to be completed, after which the output document will be automatically downloaded to your computer. If this does not happen, you can force the download by pressing the Download file button. You can also decide to save the final file to Google Drive or Dropbox . or to share it via URL, simply by clicking on the appropriate buttons.


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